By Faizan Liaquat
REPORT OF THE SECOND GAME between PIA vs KE
The second game of the day was between the teams who won so many domestic titles, The Defending champions of Pakistan Premier League Karachi Electric (KE) and Pakistan International Airline (PIA). Karachi Electric had 2 most prominent names of Pakistan National team in their starting lineup, Kaleemullah who played for Sacramento Republic FC and Tulsa Roughnecks FC in USA while Saddam Hussain played for Dordoi Bishkek in the Kyrgyzstan League.
It was considered as one of the toughest and exciting match of the group stages so there were more then 1100-1200 people came to saw the game and to see their national hero’s live in action.
The game started at 15:00 and from the starting PIA dominated the game and created many chances in the first 15 minutes but failed to convert every single one of them. 18th minutes KE got free-kick at dangerous position and the star footballer Kaleemullah took that but goal keeper saved it but on a rebound Riaz from KE missed a golden opportunity to take the lead in the first 20 minutes of the game.
The next 5 minutes of the game belongs to KE as again Kaleemullah came close to score once again when the ball went just over the bar. PIA created one counter attack in the last moments of the 1st half with which they almost opened their account of goal but the keeper of KE made an easy save because the shoot of the Shakir Lashari of PIA was weak. The score line remains 0-0 till the referee blows the halftime whistle. The defense of PIA looked solid, organized and they blocked every move which was created by KE. Over all PIA dominated the game in the first half against KE both in Attack and in Defense. They had more possession as well in the first 45 minutes.
The second half started and both the teams came unchanged. One thing which was surprising, KE was playing without their star forward and ex-captain of Pakistan National Team Muhammad Essa Khan, but coached was forced to sub him in because when the clock past 58th minutes Shakir Lashari of PIA scored the goal and gave their team lead with the score 1-0. KE who was considered Favorite team to win this tournament was lacking behind in the game till Muhammad Essa passes the ball to Kaleemullah who levels the scores and the ball was in the net of PIA, from that moment KE got their momentum back and with that they played possibly their best game of today in the last 20 minutes. In 85th minutes Captain of PIA made a foul in the 18 yard box from where referee awarded a penalty kick to KE and they took full advantage of that as Muhammad Rasool of Karachi Electric who is also their Captain scored and made the score 2-1 in the favor of KE which remains same till the match finished. During this the players of PIA protest with the referee and due to this protest Referee showed Red card to the Captain of PIA for arguing.
After the game when we talked to the manager of PIA Zafar Iqbal he said
“Referee made a wrong call and gave unfair penalty to KE in the dying moments of the game which cost my side an important point. I believe referee was biased and supported KE as there were few players from KE who belonged to Chaman as the match official.”
After the game when we managed to talk with KE players, they shared their thoughts about the game
“It was difficult to play in the beginning of the game but as the time passes we managed to find our rhythm. We have a much experience side as compare to the rest of the teams in the tournament who can recover from 1-0 or 2-0 down, Yes it’s difficult to play in these kind of grounds now as I and Kaleemullah now a days are playing in foreign league and they have ground with more facilities and conditions are pretty good of those pitches.”
Question: You came here to play this tournament, is it difficult to adjust with new players?
“No, most of the player in our team used to play with me in the National Team and since most of them are from Karachi like me so I know what kind of game they play so our understanding is good (laughs) .”
Question: Are you satisfied with your performance Saddam? As you were not playing on your original position in the game?
“Yes, it was okay. Coach told me to play as a Center Back because my team needs me there and we have enough talent in the mid field. I am ready to sacrifice my position for the side and ALLHAM DULILLAH we won today which is one of the most important part.”
Question: What was your feeling when you started the game in front of this crowd?
“I was so happy to see large number of people in the ground, it’s good to play in front of the crowd of Karachi. So many people came from Liyari to watch this game between two big teams of the domestic circuit. It was very emotional moment for me in the beginning because I am playing in Pakistan’s domestic tournament after almost 3 years.”
Question: What was in your mind when KE was behind 1-0?
“I was confident that I am going to score today, I have all the experience. Yes, in the beginning it looked difficult because it requires some time to adjust in these conditions. I know everyone was watching me, they have very high hopes from me, the fans and my team mates.”
Question: What do you think about your chance in the first half when your shoot went just over the bar? Do you think if you converted that one you would score more today?
“Yes of course, if I converted that one and also the one on a free kick which I almost thought I scored but the keeper of PIA made a great save. Yes it gives you confidence if you scored early in the game, I believed if we managed to convert any one from those 2 chances, believe me in the 2nd half we could be more dangerous.”